Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ancho-Rubbed Flank Steak

Steak: 2 - Danielle: 0

I give up when it comes to cooking steak. Last time, I followed the directions and it was still mooing. This time I turned down the heat and cooked it longer, used my meat thermometer, and it was over cooked. So I apologize that the steak looks a little "firm."

Ancho-Rubbed Flank Steak
From: Cooking Light, May 2009

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil

Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; rub evenly over both sides of steak.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add steak; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes; cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

So despite my ongoing fight with how to cook steak, I would definitely try this again. The rub was actually quite delicious, and of course, it was quick and easy to throw together.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 243Calories from fat 106
% Daily Value
Total Fat 11.8g18%
Saturated Fat 4.2g21%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 62mg21%
Sodium 358mg15%
Total Carbs 0.6g0%
Protein 31.6g
Vitamin A 2%Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2%Iron 13%

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cheese Tortellini and Vegetable Soup

Wow. Have I been busy. Hence no posting. Adam and I decided to take a nice long weekend trip up to Niagara Falls and Toronto for his birthday, and then I was busy making him some cupcakes to take to work (apparently he is still in 1st grade). Oh yes, I do have a couple big baking projects I have been working on. But those are for later.

For now, we'll focus on another quick and easy meal I found in my Fresh Food Fast cookbook -- which is currently my new favorite.

It's definitely fast and was really good. I was surprised at how full I was after eating just one bowl; the tortellini definitely helps in that regard.

Cheese Tortellini and Vegetable Soup
From: Fresh Food Fast by Cooking Light

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, undrained
1 (11 1/2-ounce) can condensed bean with bacon soup (such as Campbell's), undiluted
3 cups water
1 (16-ounce) package frozen Italian-style vegetables
3/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 (9-ounce) package fresh cheese tortellini
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine first 6 ingredients in a 4-quart saucepan; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add pasta; reduce heat to medium. Cook, partially covered, 7 minutes or until pasta and vegetables are tender. Stir in cheese.

Serves: 6

This dish is so simple and so easy. Definitely perfect for a rainy day. I had a little problem finding Italian-style veggies, so I just picked a mix with corn, asparagus, and some other veggie I can't remember -- but it worked!

Definitely one of those meals that it's easy to keep the ingredients on hand for whenever a rainy day decides to hit.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 295Calories from fat 55
Total Fat 6.1g9%
Saturated Fat 1.5g8%
Cholesterol 11mg5%
Sodium 641mg27%
Total Carbs 15.5g5%
Dietary Fiber 8.0g32%
Sugars 6.2g
Protein 13.3g

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Baked Ziti with Mascarpone Cheese

Every once in a while I crave comfort food -- not all that often, but when I do, I need to have it and have it now. Last week was one of those times. What's a kid to do? Go through my Reader and see what I have stored away just for a time such as this.

And of course, I found just the thing. Ooey-gooey baked ziti with a bonus -- mascarpone cheese.

Baked Ziti with Mascarpone Cheese
From: Elizabeth's Cooking Experiments

1 lb ziti pasta
1 (26 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1/4 lb ground beef
1/4 lb Italian sausage
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup sour cream
1-2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta to al dente. Drain, set aside.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef and Italian sausage with onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add marinara sauce to the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes. Thin the sauce just a tad with about 1/8 cup water or chicken stock. Season the sauce with garlic and herbs, to taste.

In a large bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, sour cream, and cooked pasta.

Layer the pasta, sauce and cheese in a large greased casserole dish as follows:

1/2 pasta
1/2 sauce
1/2 cheese
remaining pasta
remaining sauce
remaining cheese

(Cover dish with aluminum foil.) Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and top with Parmesan cheese and bake for an additional 5 minutes (without the foil). Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Okay, definitely hit the spot. I may or may not have added extra mozzarella cheese (hey, I had to divy the pasta up into two dishes since there was so much) which made it super cheesy -- just the way I like it.

The only thing I really did any differently was just covering the dishes with foil so the cheese didn't become crispy and browned, I'm not really a fan.

I totally regret not throwing some of this in the freezer right away because it would be great to reheat on a night I don't feel like cooking; not to mention this makes a TON.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 669Calories from fat 185
% Daily Value
Total Fat 20.6g32%
Saturated Fat 10.8g54%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 103mg34%
Sodium 8106mg338%
Total Carbs 94.2g31%
Dietary Fiber 2.9g12%
Sugars 16.5g
Protein 28.1g
Vitamin A 9%Vitamin C 5%
Calcium 40%Iron 29%

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

The first time Adam ever tried my mom's enchiladas, he later told me we were weird for not using the red sauce on top. "It's good, I mean, just weird."

Well, I had a craving for enchiladas the other night and it just so happened that I found a recipe from Cooking Light not too long ago. (Yeah, I didn't have my mom's recipe around...) And guess what? This recipe didn't have any red sauce either! (Adam actually thought it was my mom's at first because of that.)

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
From: Cooking Light, May 2009

2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
2 cups (8 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
1 2/3 cups plain low-fat yogurt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of chicken soup (such as Healthy Request), undiluted
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 tablespoon canola oil
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) finely shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions (I didn't use these, not a big fan)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Remove 1 cup chicken mixture; set mixture aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working with 1 tortilla at a time, brush oil over both sides of tortilla. Add tortilla to pan; cook 5 seconds on each side or until toasted and soft. Remove from pan; arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture down center of tortilla. Roll jelly-roll style; place filled tortilla, seam side down, in a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 7 tortillas, remaining oil, and remaining chicken mixture. Spread reserved 1 cup chicken mixture evenly over enchiladas. Cover and bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle evenly with cheddar cheese and green onions; bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

These actually came together pretty easy. I think it would be even easier to omit brushing the tortillas with olive oil and quickly pan-warming them -- next time I just plan on throwing those bad boys between damp paper towels and microwaving them.

These were actually pretty good -- I think the yogurt made them more creamy than what I'm used to, but that's a good thing. The only thing that I wasn't a huge fan of was the onions. I think next time I'd throw them over some medium heat in a skillet and cook them a little bit so they soften up. They were still a little on the hard side, and I am definitely not a fan of raw onions.

Serves: 8

Goes good with:

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 458Calories from fat 230
% Daily Value
Total Fat 25.5g39%
Saturated Fat 14.0g70%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 103mg34%
Sodium 693mg29%
Total Carbs 29.3g10%
Dietary Fiber 3.9g16%
Sugars 5.8g
Protein 28.4g
Vitamin A 9%Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 44%Iron 8%

Friday, May 15, 2009

French Dip Sandwiches

A couple weeks ago I picked up a new cookbook from Cooking Light: Fresh Food Fast. I mean, it's from Cooking Light, and it has recipes that are either 5 ingredients or 15 minutes.... can you really beat that? (As we all know, I'm all about fast and easy meals.)

After going through and marking half the book's recipes, I decided to try out the French Dip Sandwiches. And I am so.glad.I.did. They are delicious AND easy. The recipe claims that it only takes about 12 minutes to make, but I have found that it takes more like 20 (still not bad).

French Dip Sandwiches
From: Fresh Food Fast (Cooking Light)

1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons salt-free onion and herb seasoning blend, divided
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
12 ounces very thinly sliced low-sodium deli roast beef (such as Boar's Head)
4 (2 1/2-ounce) hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
4 (0.8-ounce) slices reduced-fat Swiss cheese, torn in half

Preheat oven to 500°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat; add onion. Coat onion with cooking spray; stir in 1/2 teaspoon seasoning blend. Sauté 11 to 12 minutes or until onion is tender and golden brown. While onion cooks, add 2 tablespoons water at a time; cook each time until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

While onion cooks, combine broth and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning blend in a medium saucepan; cook over medium heat until hot. Remove pan from heat; add beef, pushing beef down into liquid until covered. Let stand 5 minutes.

While beef stands, place hoagie rolls, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Bake at 500° for 4 minutes or until bread is lightly toasted.

Remove beef from broth, allowing excess broth to drip back into pan; reserve broth. Arrange beef evenly over bottom halves of rolls; top evenly with onion, cheese slices, and remaining bread halves. Serve with warm broth for dipping.

We've already had these a couple times, and I just discovered this recipe not too long ago. Definitely something I actually get a craving for. :)

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 409Calories from fat 110
% Daily Value
Total Fat 12.2g19%
Saturated Fat 5.8g29%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 92mg31%
Sodium 608mg25%
Total Carbs 36.4g12%
Dietary Fiber 5.8g23%
Sugars 4.8g
Protein 40.4g
Vitamin A 4%Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 36%Iron 31%

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Baked Penne with Farmhouse Cheddar and Leeks

(Look at all those leeks!!!)

I am constantly in search of the best Mac 'N' Cheese recipe. I grew up on the blue box, but as of late, I've been wanting to try something a little bit outside the "box".

I've tried Mascarpone Mac 'N' Cheese, Mac 'N' Cheese with Pancetta, and now this. This was probably my least favorite of the three. I'll post the recipe if you feel like trying it out.

(And all that chheeeeessseeee!!)

Baked Penne with Farmhouse Cheddar and Leeks
From: Bon Appetit, March 2009

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
5 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 5 large)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated (about 4 cups packed)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
2 large eggs
1 pound penne pasta

Lightly butter 15x10x2-inch baking dish. Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks; stir to coat. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes (do not brown). Uncover saucepan; add flour. Stir 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to simmer, stirring often. Add cheese, mustard, and pepper sauce. Stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat. Season cheese sauce to taste with salt.

Whisk eggs in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 1 cup cheese sauce. Stir egg mixture into cheese sauce in saucepan.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot.

Stir cheese sauce into pasta in pot. Transfer to prepared baking dish. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake pasta until cheese sauce is bubbling around edges and some ends of pasta are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Let stand 15 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves: 8

Adam thought there were too many leeks, I thought the cheese was almost a little grainy. Like I said, not our favorite.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 574Calories from fat 278
% Daily Value
Total Fat 30.8g47%
Saturated Fat 18.2g91%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 180mg60%
Sodium 501mg21%
Total Carbs 47.6g16%
Dietary Fiber 1.2g5%
Sugars 8.2g
Protein 26.9g
Vitamin A 37%Vitamin C 11%
Calcium 58%Iron 22%

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tres Leches Cake

And now for the main attraction, dessert! (Of course, what did you think I meant, the entree?)

When I was living down in DC, my dad randomly picked out a restaurant to try since he wanted "something new". So he picked out this seemingly hole-in-the-wall place called La Flor de la Canela just down the street. Turns out, it was this amazing little Pervuian place with delicious food.

My favorites were the Chicken Fried Rice (which is a lot like Chinese Chicken Fried Rice, but not as greasy), the yuca fries, and their tres leches cake. Ohhhh that cake. How I miss it so.

So I get it in my head over Easter that I need to attempt to replicate this cake. I turned to good ol' Emeril Lagasse in such time of need and it actually turned out pretty darn good. Still not that absolutely fabulous cake drizzled with raspberry sauce, but man, it was close.

Tres Leches
(Three Milks Cake)
Adapted from: Emeril Lagasse

6 large eggs, separated
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream topping:
1 14-ounce can low-fat evaporated milk
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream

Cool Whip
Strawberries, sliced (or raspberries, blueberries, etc.)

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites on low speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually with the mixer running and peak to stiff peaks. Add the egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after the addition of each.

Sift together the flour and baking powder and add to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk. (Do this quickly so the batter does not lose volume.) Add the vanilla. Bake until golden, 25 minutes.

To make the cream topping: In a blender, combine the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream and blend on high speed.

Remove the cake from the oven and while still warm, poke holes with a fork all over the cake. Slowly pour the cream mixture over it a little at a time (let it absorb the cream before adding more). Let sit and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

To assemble: Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread the Cool Whip evenly across the top. Arrange the strawberry slices over the top and serve.

I did change a few things up from Emeril's recipe. He uses a sweet icing instead of the Cool Whip, but I figured it was sweet enough as it was. If you want this extra part of the recipe, just click on his name above. I also included that you need to poke holes all over the cake - for some reason he doesn't include this, and I'm not sure how else the cake will absorb the cream...

Overall, it did take a little bit of work, and you do have to know what a "soft peak" is vs. a "hard peak" when it comes to working with the eggs. But it is SO WORTH IT. Yum.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 370Calories from fat 113
% Daily Value
Total Fat 12.6g19%
Saturated Fat 8.0g40%
Cholesterol 106mg35%
Sodium 94mg4%
Total Carbs 57.3g19%
Sugars 44.9g
Protein 8.2g
Vitamin A 7%Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 19%Iron 7%

Mashed-Potato Casserole with Smoked Gouda and Bacon

As for the second side dish (we only had two, there were only 4 of us for goodness sakes) we opted for the standard mashed potatoes. But instead of going the super traditional route and doing just potatoes, milk, and butter, we added in a couple more extras like smoked gouda and bacon. I mean seriously, how can you go wrong with something like bacon? Answer: you pretty much can't.

Mashed-Potato Casserole with Smoked Gouda and Bacon

Adapted from: Bon Appetit

6 slices ready-made bacon (to save time)
3 large green onions (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup light sour cream
1/3 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely grated smoked Gouda, divided

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Chop bacon. Place in medium bowl. Add green onions; toss to distribute evenly.

Place potatoes in large pot and add enough cold water to cover. Sprinkle with salt. Cover and boil with lid slightly ajar until potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain well.

Return potatoes to pot. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until potatoes are dry and light film forms on bottom of pot, about 2 minutes. Add next 3 ingredients. Using potato masher, mash until almost smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups smoked Gouda and 1 cup bacon mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Spread potato mixture in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup Gouda over.

Bake potatoes until cheese melts and edges of potatoes are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle reserved bacon mixture over and serve.

If you want to prep this beforehand, it can be prepared up to 8 hours ahead. Simply cover and chill potato mixture and remaining bacon mixture separately. Once you're ready to go, bake it for about 40 minutes and follow the remaining directions.

Serves: 8

Ok, so I cheated. I have made this before down at my sister's. And it was equally as good then. The cheese and bacon definitely add something extra to this dish... I'm not sure I can really ever go back to regular ol' mashed po-taters again.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 438Calories from fat 246
% Daily Value
Total Fat 27.3g42%
Saturated Fat 14.5g73%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 81mg27%
Sodium 791mg5=33%
Total Carbs 29.7g10%
Dietary Fiber 4.3g17%
Sugars 3.3g
Protein 19.1g
Vitamin A 12%Vitamin C 59%
Calcium 26%Iron 8%

Creamy Broccoli Bake

This side dish was an easy pick for Easter. A) It's pretty easy to throw together, which is great when there's 50 million other things going on; and B) it's a family recipe that we have almost every year, so I know everyone likes it.

Creamy Broccoli Bake

From: Lori Bohnhoff

1 1/2 lb. broccoli (thaw first if frozen -- just follow the package directions)
1 can Healthy Request cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Bisquick or 1 pkg. crushed Ritz crackers (I'm a fan of the Bisquick)
1/4 cup butter (firm)
1 stick butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Place broccoli (thawed) in a large baking dish.

Mix soup and milk together; pour over broccoli. Sprinkle as much cheese as you want over the top.

Combine Bisquick and both butters in a small bowl until crumbly. Spread evenly over top of dish.

Bake, uncovered, for 20-30 min.

See how simple that was? Piece of cake. There's a reason we make this at all our family gatherings...

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 339Calories from fat 242
% Daily Value
Total Fat 26.9g41%
Saturated Fat 15.2g76%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 62mg21%
Sodium 672mg28%
Total Carbs 18.1g6%
Dietary Fiber 2.5g10%
Sugars 4.5g
Protein 8.3g
Vitamin A 25%Vitamin C 127%
Calcium 19%Iron 9%

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Honey Glazed Ham

Now, typically I'm not a super huge fan of holiday food. (Minus desserts.) Ham is my one exception. Every Christmas at my Grandma's we always had this amazing spiral-cut ham -- BUT seeing as she lives out in the middle of Nowhere North Dakota, it's not really possible to get my hands on one of those. So I have to work with what I have (and I didn't feel like splurging at HoneyBaked Ham).

Nothing like finding a highly rated recipe online to try out on my parents. :)

Honey Glazed Ham

Adapted from:

5 pounds ready-to-eat ham
1/4 cup whole cloves
1/4-1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups honey
2/3 cup butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Score ham, and stud with the whole cloves. Place ham in foil lined pan.

In the top half of a double boiler (or a glass bowl over water simmering in a saucepan), heat the brown sugar, honey and butter until the sugar is melted. Keep glaze warm while baking ham.

Brush glaze over ham, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Baste ham every 10 to 15 minutes with the honey glaze. During the last 4 to 5 minutes of baking, turn on broiler to caramelize the glaze. Remove from oven, and let sit a few minutes before serving.

Serves: 15

This turned out absolutely delicious! I did have the oven up a little higher than 325 (I think it was on 350) due to cooking the side dishes, hence the super crisy edges. The crust was a little tough from the higher temp, but it still had a great flavor. (Just make sure not to eat the cloves!)

I'm definitely keeping this one around for the next holiday ham.

Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 471Calories from fat 194
% Daily Value
Total Fat 21.5g33%
Saturated Fat 9.7g49%
Cholesterol 108mg36%
Sodium 2036mg85%
Total Carbs 46.4g15%
Dietary Fiber 2.6g11%
Sugars 39.5g
Protein 25.4g
Vitamin A 5%Vitamin C 13%
Calcium 5%Iron 11%

Easter Dinner! (Only a month late...)

Sorry this is a month late, but after I post all these recipes, plus two more, I'll be all caught up! (I forced myself to slow down with the new recipes last month, in hopes that I can FINALLY go back to posting about something I made yesterday -- not 2 months ago.)

Anyhoo, as I said, my parents came up to visit Adam and I for Easter so I had absolutely no choice but to bust out my china for the first time and make an actual holiday dinner. ;) Alas, our poor little table is so small we were all crammed together, and we didn't even have room for any dishes of food.

About that dinner... here's the line-up:

Mashed-Potato Casserole with Smoked Gouda and Bacon
Tres Leches Cake

I'll put the recipes in their own follow-up posts.


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